Tag Archives: classical

Review: The Liberal Arts Tradition: A Philosophy of Christian Classical Education

The Liberal Arts Tradition: A Philosophy of Christian Classical EducationThe Liberal Arts Tradition: A Philosophy of Christian Classical Education by Kevin Clark

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I wrote the following awhile back, and it has been published on the back cover of this book.

Some of us, after having immersed ourselves in the Trivium, thanks to Dorothy Sayers’s essay and many other wonderful resources, have found ourselves wondering, What else? We know there are seven liberal arts, including the Quadrivium, and we don’t know exactly what to do with these other four, where to go next. Clark and Jain’s The Liberal Arts Tradition has the answers, and provides them in a clear, concise, non-partisan way. If you are wondering, What else? then this is one resource you need to have on your bookshelf.

I still agree. In fact, my initial comments on the book don’t even do the book justice. Clark and Jain tackle, and tackle well, not only the Trivium and Quadrivium, but that which precedes them in the educational process. Then, they take you beyond all of that and into the realm of the natural sciences, natural philosophy, philosophy, and theology. They do all of this with sound reasoning, appeals to pedagogical principles and history, and clear examples. They beg, without pandering, Christians to recover what still lacks in classical, Christian education.

If I had a complaint, and I don’t, it would be that the book is too short. It is filled with footnotes that I would have liked to see be worked into the text itself, but the book was meant to be a beginning to a larger conversation and that demanded the format we now have.

Classical, Christian educators need to read this book.

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The Best Article on Education I’ve Read

Do we seek out students based on their true identity (the Imago Dei) or based on their academic efforts or aptitude?

This question is asked in what may be one of the best articles I’ve read on education…ever. “Leave No Student Behind – Especially the Lost One” is the story of a teacher who asks himself the hard questions, and forces himself to reconcile what he learns in the Gospels, and from Jesus Himself, with what he is practicing as a teacher.

This article is a must read for every teacher, administrator, and homeschooling parent.

Review: Milton’s Tractate on Education

Milton's Tractate on Education: A Fascimile Reprint from the Edition of 1673Milton’s Tractate on Education: A Fascimile Reprint from the Edition of 1673 by John Milton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I recently read John Milton’s tract “Of Education.” Very interesting, and he helps to clarify some things for me by showing a necessary order in the education process. Just as with plants, they must receive water and nutrients at certain times and a certain order, so too must our children receive education orderly for it to be most effectual.

I also greatly appreciated his emphasis on education for both the body and mind. If there was one thing lacking, at least for my own needs, it was that he didn’t always state clearly how to teach. For example, he mentions that a student can become fluent in Latin in one year’s time, but he doesn’t say how. For my sake, I wish I knew that. I must admit, however, that the tract is actually a letter on education to a friend who clearly knew what Milton meant by his statements. I just happen to not be in the know on that point. Sad for me.

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Review: The Phantom Tollbooth

The Phantom TollboothThe Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was just so much fun! Norton Juster is very clever and witty. His story is fun and engaging. Every word, every phrase, every sentence is an adventure itself as Juster plays game after game with words and numbers.

This is the perfect story for any child, but especially for the child who is bored, who doesn’t enjoy learning, adventures, or nature.

I had a lot of fun reading this book!

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Review: Beauty in the Word

Beauty in the WordBeauty in the Word by Stratford Caldecott

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Stratford Caldecott has yet again proved to amaze me (again because I’ve already read his book, Beauty for Truth’s Sake). His previous book focuses on the Quadrivium of the Seven Liberal Arts. This book focuses on the Trivium of the Seven Liberal Arts. The book is amazing because he reimagines–or, to use his words, “creatively reinterprets (Caldecott, 133)”–the Trivium in terms we’re not used to thinking about it.

Grammar he likens to mythos, remembering, truth, the Father, and that which is given. Dialectic he likens to logos, thinking, Goodness, the Son, and that which is received. Rhetoric he likens to ethos, speaking, the Beautiful, the Spirit, and that which is shared. Some of these likenings are easier to imagine, others take some work. He paints a beautiful picture, however, to make the task easier.

He is a Catholic, and that comes out more in this text than the previous, but that’s okay. He’s not afraid to speak about things in terms of his Catholic thinking. So he warns us not to educate children to be too literal with the Bible, he wants liturgy (a shout-out to James K.A. Smith?) and catechesis to be a foundational element in that education, and objective truth to be assumed in it.

The book is thought-provoking on many levels, and will ask you to reimagine your own thoughts about the Trivium, especially if your familiarity with it comes primarily from Dorothy Sayers’ important essay. I do not think you will be disappointed should you make the time to read this book.

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The Dangers of Classical Education?

We live in a world that for centuries trained up its children in the classics, by this I mean the seven liberal arts: grammar, dialectic, rhetoric, arithmetic, geometry, harmony, and astronomy. These were followed by the queen of the arts: philosophy/theology.

Throughout those centuries, Christianity grew exponentially, Christians believed and trusted in the Triune God and His Word.

Today, our world refuses (or fails) to teach the seven liberal arts and our world (since the Enlightenment, I suppose) doubts or outright rejects the Triune God and His Word. For those who identify themselves as Christians, a multiplicity of them–according to statistics–do not believe in absolute truth or that the Bible is the Word of God.

Yet, somehow, there are Christians who oppose classical education (I hear Francis Schaeffer was one of them) on the grounds that teaching our children the pagan classics will teach them to doubt absolute truth and the inerrancy and sufficiency of the Word of God.

Allow me to repeat myself: for much of our history we taught our children classically (including the pagan poets) and Christianity grew exponentially and Christians presupposed God and His Word. Today, we fail to teach those things and we have failed to produce Christians who presuppose God and His Word.

Studying the classics (pagan and otherwise–there are Christian classics, you know) does not teach children to doubt or reject God or His Word, it teaches them to think. Rejecting the classics prevents our children from thinking and therefore seeing through the foolishness of this world, a foolishness that rejects God.

Embrace the classics, embrace thinking, embrace God.